Jean Urquhart MSP has described the Westminster government’s latest act of ignorance towards the needs of the people of the Shetland Islands as “another failure of representation at the highest level”.
It was reported today in the Shetland Times that Shetland Islands Councillor Allison Duncan buttonholed Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, for the coalition’s failure to deliver on a previous promise made regarding housing debt.
The Council, at the behest of the previous Tory government, had built dozens of new houses to host incoming oil workers, with then-Chancellor Ken Clarke promising to write off a £40m housing debt incurred by the Islands- a promise that was never fulfilled.
Councillor Duncan noted that Mr Alexander seemed particularly “uncomfortable” and unfamiliar with the issue when, during the conversation, a “very discouraging” letter sent by Mr Alexander to the Council regarding the debt was raised.
Mr Alexander’s reticence is all the more striking given his previous calls for Highland Council housing debt to be wiped out by Westminster in 2010.
Ms Urquhart, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, said:
“This latest chapter in the LibDems’ involvement in the Coalition saga only deepens the impression of a party out of touch with its principles and its constituents.
“LibDems, who waited a century to regain power at Westminster, have proven to be toothless in representing rural Scotland, including Shetland, which have gone for so long without a strong, local representative on the Westminster government benches.
“Although they were not part of the Westminster government that initially pressed for the building of houses, they are part of the Westminster government that can help deliver on an old promise.
“The most basic element of an MP’s job is representing the interests of their constituency and constituents. In these tough economic times for the Council, how long will it take for the Coalition’s Chief Whip to fulfil this duty for his constituency?
“Or, as with fuel duty, are the LibDems simply providing cover for Tory ineptitude while delivering little for those who trusted them with power?”